The Flame Angelfish (Centropyge loriculus) is, without a doubt, one of the most popular dwarf angelfish for both beginner and expert saltwater aquarists alike. This fish's bold red/orange color, vertical black stripes on the body, and blue-tipped dorsal and anal fins make this fish the centerpiece of any marine aquarium.
It is interesting to note the difference in colors and markings of the Flame Angel which change with the zone in which they occur.
Common Names: Flame Angelfish, Red Angelfish
Scientific Name: Centropyge loriculus
Adult Size: About 4 inches
Life Expectancy: 5–7 years
|Origin||Indo-Pacific as far north as the Hawaiian Islands|
|Tank Level||All levels|
|Minimum Tank Size||30 gallons|
|Breeding||Rarely breeds in captivity|
|Temperature||75–80 degrees Fahrenheit (25–27 degrees Celsius)|
Origin and Distribution
The Flame Angelfish was first found in the Society Islands in the Pacific but has been seen in tropical waters across the Western Pacific including Belau, the Hawaiian, Marquesas, and Ducie Islands, and the Great Barrier Reef and the Pitcairn group of Islands. These fish live in groups of three to seven individuals, preferring stony coral reefs (particularly finger coral) in clear lagoons. They typically congregate at outer reef slopes at depths of 16 to 82 feet.
Colors and Markings
The Flame Angelfish, like all dwarf angels, has an oval body and rounded fins. They are beautiful fish with bright markings that vary widely depending upon their place of origin.
Flame Angels found in the Central Pacific area include both the Marshall Islands and Christmas Island varieties. Marshall Island Flame Angels are a more intense red (as opposed to an orange tint), with thicker black bars running vertically down the body. The Christmas Island variety is normally more red/orange in color with thin black bars running vertically down the body.
The Flame Angels from Cebu are red/orange with blurred black bars and a tint of yellow in between the bars. Those from Tahiti are blood red and possess very little to no yellow. But these fish are rarely collected.
Hawaiian specimens tend to be larger, having a deeper, more vibrant red color than those of the Indo-Pacific region, which are more orange-red. The fin edges on all species are an almost fluorescent, deep blue-purple color.
Flame Angels can be kept with corals and invertebrates, though they may nip at large polypod stony corals, zoanthids, tridacnid clam mantles, and even some soft coral polyps. Therefore, this fish cannot be completely trusted if these invertebrates are present. Feeding the Flame Angel desirable food will cut down on their need to graze on the coral, limiting the damage they may do.
They are happiest in mated pairs and small groups. With a single male in the group, they are rarely aggressive toward one another, but males may fight. Other safe tankmates include other semi-aggressive species such as the other dwarf angels, anthias, clownfish, tangs, and large wrasses. They can sometimes share a tank with more aggressive fish as well, so long as the Flame Angels are the larger residents.
Habitat and Care
The Flame Angelfish is considered one of the best choices for aquariums because it usually adapts well to captivity. To thrive, it should be kept in either a 30-gallon live-rock tank or in a 100-gallon tank if there are corals present. Provide plenty of shelter for hiding, along with ample algae for nibbling. Be aware: Copper is lethal to this species, so please do not use any copper-containing decorations or tubing.
Flame Angelfish are comfortable with moderate lighting and any amount of water movement. They enjoy hanging at all levels of the tank, so don't be surprised if you find them toward the bottom rather than the middle of their habitat.
When introducing new Flame Angelfish to the tank, do keep them in quarantine for a few days as it's not unusual for these fish to be shipped with pre-existing parasites or disease. Once released, monitor them carefully for signs of abnormal eating and aggression.
An omnivore that eats both plant and animal fare, the Flame Angelfish should be provided with ample live rock and algae growth. Constant grazing is good for the tank, and this fish is a particularly good brown diatom algae eater. This species will accept most any type of fare suitable for omnivores.
As with roughly 2 percent of the fish species around the world, over 500 known species, all of the members of this particular species are born female. As they mature, the more dominant, larger, most successful individuals change from female to male through a hormonal conversion. The less dominant of the group remain female. As an effective survival strategy for some insects, some fishes, and some reptiles, a relatively dominant female may convert into a male if the only male in the group dies or is removed. It takes about two months for a complete conversion. To determine which Flame Angelfish in your tank is male, look for the one that is larger with bigger blue streaks on the dorsal and anal fins.
Breeding the Flame Angelfish
It is very difficult to breed Flame Angelfish. However, these fish have spawned in captivity, and lucky aquarists have succeeded in raising their young.
Flame Angelfish are spawning fish; they rise through the water column at dusk, releasing both eggs and sperm in a cloud. To encourage spawning, keep your fish in as deep a tank as possible. Use lighting to simulate a natural day-night diurnal environment. Turn off about half of your aquarium lights and then return two hours later to turn off remaining lights. You'll need to do this at the same time each day.
Once eggs are fertilized, they hatch in about 24 hours. The favored food of Angelfish fry is microscopic algae.
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